Is it Time to Put Paper-Based Testing to Rest?

May 7, 2019

The following is an Op-Ed/Opinion article sent to major newspapers in North Carolina by McCann President, Mark Shay.  The piece is designed to fuel debate over the out-dated practice of school-based paper-based tests.  Online proctoring has come a long way in the past few years, testing practices in schools, colleges and universities has not.


In a world where the average person books everything online—everything from airplane tickets to food deliveries—and where most banking is now done electronically, we still find that our schools test students on paper. This happens with classroom tests as well as high stakes exams like the SAT, ACT and the North Carolina Final Exams. While some of these tests have moved to online delivery, many school systems are moving into the digital age at a snail’s pace.

In January of this year, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction issued a Request for Proposal for a statewide College Admissions & Workplace Readiness Assessment for grade 11, with a companion for grades 8 & 10. Our company, McCann Associates bid on this opportunity.

During the bidding process, we became very aware that school districts are not equipped to handle large volumes of computer-based tests and that the estimated volume of tests delivered would be 90% paper and pencil. Our proposal took a bold step by recommending that testing be removed from schools altogether; opting for delivery via online proctoring. This method would eliminate the need for 225,000 test booklets and the disruption that occurs during large-scale in-school testing events. Online proctored testing has become commonplace in online education so it would follow to reason that the time is ripe for online home-based testing for North Carolina’s K-12 students.

The DPI has yet to announce the winner of their search for this new test, but when they do, let’s hope it’s one aligned with the future of test administration, not cast in the past.


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